India ups the ante with Pakistan on Kashmir

By M.K. Bhadrakumar

A sensational “leak” in the Indian press, possibly by the Indian security establishment, implicates Britain as having midwifed the recent agreement between the spy agencies of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But it is an open secret that Britain closely coordinates and collaborates with the United States its moves on the Afghan chessboard. And if the Indian spooks are indeed correct, it follows that London acted in tandem with Washington.

Now, why would the U.S. and Britain mastermind a deal between Afghanistan’s National Security Directorate (NSD) and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to humiliate India?

Can it be that Washington and London got so fed up with the conduct of the Indian spooks in the Hindu Kush that they decided to promote the ISI?

No, this Indian allegation is too bizarre for words. It must be seen for what it is – a classic blame game. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the spooks in India are livid that their Pakistani counterparts have comprehensively outplayed them in the “great game” on the Afghan turf.

To rub salt into the wound, the Pakistanis have been lately gloating over their success in the great game. Pakistan has announced that a high-level team visiting the U.S. currently will “share” with the Americans evidence of the Indian spy agency’s “increasing involvement in stoking terrorism in Pakistan.”

Unsurprisingly, the politicians on both sides have jumped into the fray and the mudslinging is becoming a daily affair.

To be sure, the India-Pakistan ties have sharply deteriorated. The communication lines between the two neighboring capitals have become dysfunctional. Where is it all leading?

Delhi doesn’t realize that if the tensions spiral, India’s regional policies are in danger of becoming Pakistan-centric – although the Indian pundits may claim just the opposite to be the case.

This deplorable state of affairs is not what Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised when he came to power a year ago. Certainly, this is not the picture of India that Modi himself would wish to present to the world community – a country that cannot even sort out its nagging problems with its immediate neighbor and yet insisting that it is eager to assume the global responsibilities of a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Yet, the Modi government is only upping the ante lately. Of late it has begun asserting India’s claim over Pakistan’s Northern Areas (which were never really part of Kashmir, historically speaking) in addition to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.

Logically, a solution to the Kashmir problem would have meant a settlement that doesn’t redraw the existing boundaries, and the only feasible solution would be to affirm the Line of Control dividing the disputed territory of Kashmir as a de facto border.

In geopolitical terms, however, the Modi government is demanding that India shall have a common border with Afghanistan, and Pakistan shall cease to have a common border with China. To the outside world, this can only appear to be a patently unrealistic stance way beyond India’s capacity to realize. In sum, the Modi government seems to be preparing for a prolonged period of tensions with Pakistan.

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  • Asim Hashmi

    Problem with Afghan game is unlimited number of characters invovled, regional and beyond. Historically USA has tried its best to sit on backyard of China and Russia, be it Georgia, an indepdenent state of Kashmir or desire to have long term permenant bases in Afghanistan. Every one knows how plan in georgia failed with a short scale war, I have a feel on USA design on Kashmir both Pakistan and India checkmated USA as neither of them was willing to give away what they controll least lose it to a small state as proxy of USA.
    Now as it comes to Afghanistan, the day the USA announced its withdrawl from Afghan truff, it was an acceptance of defeat in their designs just like Soviet Union.
    As for notion that Pakistani spymasters outplayed Indians in Afghan, I think it was inevitable once USA withdrawn to minimum number of soliders on ground. Pakistan kept bearing heavy losses in hand of TTP (Terheek Taliban Pakistan, note: not Afghan Talibans) because they didn’t wanted to eliminate playground for Afghan Talibans on their northern border. Once Afghan Taliban gained enough ground inside Afghanistan after US withdrawal, it was matter of time when to start it. Second it also coninsides with Chinies designs of Silk Roads and once China gave a nod, Pakistan military started clearing the mess inside its bounderies, pushing the mess back inside Afghanistan. This handicapped team USA knowing now Taliban are going to be big headache. USA and Pakistan are not on the best of terms hence USA used their pet Britain to make a deal between Afghan itelligence and ISI so they can have some peace of mind. Indeed this happened on expense of Indian RAW, on the end of day USA looks for their interests above any one else. They will switch team as many times between Indian and Pakistan whenever they need it. Its between Pakistan and India to find settlement to border problems, not burn the hard earn cash into developling military might and try to give this 1/5th of world population chance of better living. Its a shame that since getting rid of British raj we are still immature not to get our priorties right.

    In my opinion Kashmir should be joined as one state demilitarised neither Pakista neither India should project forces inside Kashmir on othe actual line of control, sort out all other border problems with some give and take. Lets not make it an ego problem, it will not be a big problem if we can finish the enimity then some area be it under India control or Pakistan control would not make such a difference, both countries are big enough to adjust borders without losing sleep over it.
    Finally thank your M.K Bhadrakumar, I always search for your articles on regional politices, and I always find them fair and justified in your analysis. Please keep writing unbaised regional analysis for promotion of peace and prosperity of our people and nation.

  • Global_South

    Interesting comment! But US isn’t just playing India and Pakistan against each other. Amazingly, they have recently been more and more willing to bring their own geopolitical rival China into the fray. Afghanistan is looked upon as a weak state unable to decide its own destiny. However, they too seem to be doing quite well at this “great game”. Their prime interest seems to be “short-circuiting” rather than counteracting Pakistan. For instance, Pakistan was the mediator between Ghani and China. Now increasingly, to Afghanistan’s delight, China is playing an independent role as a mediator between Ghani, Taliban and Pakistan. China and US are both observers at meetings between the three parties and unsurprisingly, India is left out of all negotiations.

    US probably doesn’t think it has lost the war. If Afghanistan remains a relatively stable state which doesn’t export terrorism, Washington would consider it to be a victory. Maybe it sees China as an effective net security provider in the region and it suits US to let China take over the baton from it.

  • Asim Hashmi

    Thanks for your encourging comment, you have relatively very good understanding of this south asian chess however I have different view point on certain matters. e.g. in my understanding it never was a terrorism which brought USA into Afghanistan, it will be naive to totally neglect geopolitcal importance and geography of Afghanistan, It borders, Iran, pakistan, china, All the other stans and biggest stan (russia) J/K. Having listening and spy post in Afghanistan is like a dream come true for any Imperial state. After failing in Georgia, Afghanland was the only other weak state nearby where US could have put their foothold relatively easily than any other state in region.

    Now lets take China, unfortunatley for US, things have globally changed to worse dramatically, Russia’s threat in Ukraine, destablised Egypt, Libya, Tunisa, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and now Saudi Arabia falling off Americans lap. Lets not forget South China sea. With all these headaches on plate, and an unwinnable situration in Afghanistan I can comprehend reasons USA took China on board in Afghanistan while still opposing in Southchina Sea, US interests in south China sea are far greater and more winnable as Vietnam, Philpines, Japan, s. Korea, Mayalisya, all are on US side where Afghan soil is very hositle to US presence, I read some reports Iran was training Afghan Talibans lately, its like mixing oil and water as former is Shia and later is Sunni, but hey its politics.

    Afghan taliban always had local agenda, and they were never an international threat, rest is just propganda sadly it works to scare people. Like shrinking British Empire in WW1, US has to make tough decisions, its a killer for any empire to vacate any political vacum for rival empires but US has no choice as AFghan war is nothing but drain of money for them, hence I called US lost its major goals atleast if not completely so far. US has far bigger and concerning issues on their hand, with most EU countries reducing their defence budget, with Japan and China rising tension, burning Middle east and a non-ending Shia-Sunning proxy wars in whole middle east. I personally am very concerned and pessimistic about near future. Usually I always beleive in good out come eventually, but in current state of world, I am not seeing any peace in my life time.

  • Global_South

    I am pessimistic about the current state of the world too. Since you are so well informed about international affairs, you’ll enjoy the following two pieces from Bhadrakumar – article in Asia times ( ) and his comments in a discussion on RSTV on BRICS and SCO ( ). I think Bhadrakumar sees the world in a state similar to what existed prior to World War 1, globalisation notwithstanding, where alliances were formed in anticipation of a war which themselves ended up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.